We’ve heard about the many challenges our soldiers face upon returning home after tours of duty such as the rising unemployment and divorce rates that outpace the civilian ones. But, what we don’t hear much about is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which is affecting an estimated 13-20 percent of the 2.6 million service members deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. It is these staggering statistics along with personal experience that inspired Ashley Wise, a military wife whose husband returned from combat with PTSD, to create the support network Battling Bare.
According to the The Institute of Medicine, federal agencies have continued to dedicate more resources to the screening of PTSD and treatment of returning soldiers, but Ashley knows all too well that treatment isn’t reaching those who need it. After sharing her story with other military wives she realized she was not alone in her desperation to find the right support for her husband and family.
Instead of staying silent, Ashley wrote this beautiful pledge on her bare back, took a photo holding her husband’s rifle over her head and uploaded it to Facebook. Almost immediately, other military wives, girlfriends, daughters, moms, sisters and friends started to do the same. Ashley says on the Battling Bare website, “We are attempting to show that the system set up for PTSD treatment in the military is severely broken. Our goal is to get people talking about PTSD in order to help remove the stigma, because ignoring it is causing too many deaths of our brave service members.”
Battling Bare has gained incredible momentum and has expanded its mission to provide a network of support for the spouses, children and family members who silently struggle to carry the burden of PTSD with their beloved Service Members. “By creating a safe place to band together and share our stories, we will raise awareness about PTSD and create positive programs of true healing for families affected.” Currently seeking non-profit status, Ashley hopes to take it further, “We are dedicated to eradicating the stigma in order for the family as a whole to achieve the help and healing they deserve.”
Photos courtesy of Battling Bare